Dutch traits: five things you realise when you are becoming a bit Dutch

The other day it hit me. It has been almost 10 years since I arrived in the Netherlands. Time really flies, but what struck me the most is that slowly, slowly I may have been adopting some very Dutch traits. Maybe you have as well?

So how do you know you’ve been hanging out too long in the Lowlands? You’ve adopted these Dutch traits…

You hit the beach as soon as the thermometer registers 12ºC

Even if it is not spring yet. You become a true sun-worshipper, and if you are not dependent on the school holidays, you probably leave for the sun during cold, dark February, like a migratory bird.

Dutch Traits
Out at the beach in Scheveningen. Image: Amanda Snorkels/Supplied

READ MORE | The guide to immigrating to the Netherland: becoming Dutch in 12 steps

You start collecting coupons and studying catalogues

You realize you have become obsessed with getting the best deals, buying everything in discount or better yet, second hand. You may even collect, trade and send coupons to friends.

It’s like a sport. I get a thrill off of buying stuff (that we would normally buy anyway, like detergent, toothpaste or bread) at half price.

It reminds me of Lily Allen’s: “Nan you’re a window shopper” (“You only buy the paper to cut out the coupons, you’re saving 50p but what do you want with tampons?”). We’ve always tried to be frugal, but I am taking this to a whole new level, inheriting some true Dutch traits.

Dutch Traits
Discounts are love, discounts are life. Image: Amanda Snorkels/Supplied

You realize that HEMA is your second home

No really — there is nothing better than HEMA at 9 AM, often the only shop that is open in cold windy mornings. They offer a more or less complete breakfast for two euros (though it used to be even better)!

I always find it fun to see people of all walks of life getting in line to eat their first or second breakfast while trying to see the city from one of their big windows. There are the businessmen, the construction workers, the moms with their kids, the old Dutch, the new Dutch, the young, the old… Everybody gathers there. Oh, and how could I not mention their famous hot dogs and smoked sausages (rookworst).

Dutch Traits
A traditional Dutch breakfast, yum! Image: Amanda Snorkels/Supplied

I can hardly ever enter the shop without the five-year-old asking for a hot dog, but I can’t blame her, they are tasty. And I love how they are always on-trend whether you are looking for stickers, Easter decorations, accessories for your bike, envelopes, toiletries or a cheap and warm sweater.

I realized I might be becoming Dutch this one time I came back from a trip back home and the first thing I did was meet a friend to catch up at the Hema over some traditional stamppot, with sausage, of course.

I must not be the only one loving this Dutch institution because there are already two volumes of a book gathering stories of Dutch citizens abroad called “Ik mis nog steeds de Hema ” (I still miss HEMA).

You love your bike

Dutch Traits
The quintessential Dutch view. Image: Amanda Snorkels/Supplied

It is your main way of transport and you use it to go everywhere: to carry all your things, as a means to stay fit and to relax all in one. Seriously, whenever I am stressed just breathing the air while I bike grounds me and makes me happy.

READ MORE| Dutch bike culture: How cycling comes first and pedestrians second

You carry an agenda and it is full of appointments, a classic Dutch trait

Dutch Traits
Some real adulting. Image: Amanda Snorkels/Supplied

These appointments go way into the future (like the next two months). You still like to arrange spontaneous meetings with friends, but have noticed that you need to check twice before making a date.

Did I miss anything? What Dutch traits have you adopted? Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image: Pexels/Pixabay
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in March 2019 and was fully updated in March 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Amanda Steck
I am a Mexican girl, born to a Swiss father and married to a Dutch guy, living in The Netherlands for 9 years (oh how time flies!). I have a background in Biology and Veterinary medicine and a passion for travel, writing, baking, reading, discovering bookshops jumping around like crazy and red dresses. I also blog at Poppies and Ice-cream.


  1. Nice Amanda! When I first read coupons, I thought it wasn’t me, but then I remembered I’m always collecting something at AH! One trait I definitely adopted from Holland is a very strong appreciation (AKA addiction) to coffee. It’s such a social norm to drink coffee, and I happily obliged! Another trait I can thank Holland for is that I don’t go anywhere without my own shopping bag, and avoid plastic bags and straws at all costs.

    • OMG; how could I have forgotten the coffee? I enjoy it so much, though not quite as strong. And yeah you are right the canvas or cloth shopping bags are a super nice trait to adopt, I do the same as well.

  2. I’ve also adapted to the dutch society to a certain degree considering i ‘m canadian. Being broad minded at one time and my way of thinking has becomed more compact due to this immense country we call the Netherlands. I’m not being sarcastic but realistic for the dutch think on a smaller scale. Of course the Netherlands has much to offer considering its history just like any other country. I remain canadian with a touch of dutch ingenuity.

  3. I am half Dutch and half English. I have fond memories of sitting in a big shop with Opa drinking coffee and eating one of the amazing cream cakes you can buy in Holland


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